Tuesday, May 22, 2012

One Terrifying Night

And not for me.


This wasn't a Jason Statham movie!

Well it was terrifying, but because I'm a huge chicken.

But for her... that night haunts me.

I was about 22 I'd guess. It was 1988 or so. The place, Bowie, MD, my hometown.

I almost hit her.

I had been out with my girlfriend and had dropped her back at her house in South Bowie. I was driving north on Rt. 3 or 301 or whatever the road was at the point. I hadn't gone too far up the road when she ran right in front of me. Being that it was fairly late in the evening, probably after midnight, there wasn't a lot of traffic. She ran out from the right shoulder of the road, crossing in front of me on her way to the median strip which was fairly large and grassy. I had just enough of a warning in seeing her that I was able to cross from the left lane over to the right to avoid her.

I didn't lock my brakes but carefully slowed down and pulled over onto the median about 300 yards ahead of her. I was concerned for her safety and wanted to make sure she was all right.

It was at this point that I saw the other vehicle. It was on the right side of the road and as I pulled over, this car moved to the center median ahead of her and a man got out. A brief chase ensued and he grabbed her and put her in his car.

I had no idea what to make of the situation, but as he passed my stopped vehicle I pulled out to follow him.

I'm sure that given the reduced traffic, the other driver was aware of my presence before I began following him. He didn't drive far before turning into a restaurant parking lot and pulling up to the front of the building which was not closed for the evening. I pulled in to a spot closer to the road and then we danced.

I felt as if I was witnessing my first true Evil.

Every fiber of my being screamed that something wasn't right, but my arm refused to open the car door, my legs refused to carry me over to his car, my voice failed me to call out to see if everything was all right. 1988 was a dark, dark time where one did not carry a telephone on their hip, let alone the Internet... thus I was left with no avenue other than to sit in my yellow silence within my car trying to summon the courage to move. No occupant of the other car had left that vehicle either, so I was left to contemplate the situation.

After what seemed like an hour, but likely no more than 10 minutes, the other car started. Taking every precaution, the other driver pulled out slowly and made his way out of the parking lot and back onto Rt. 3 where he slowly made his way onto the ramp for Rt. 50 towards Annapolis.

I chose at that point not to follow, why I will never know, but rather I went to seek out a policeman. As I drove towards my home, luck or fate or God put a policeman in my path. At the intersection of Rt. 450 and Millstream Drive, a policeman sat waiting for the light to turn. As I was directly across from him, I checked the traffic and went through the red light to stop on the opposite side of the street as his car.

Running a red light within obvious sight of a policeman will get their attention for sure.

I ran to his car and breathlessly wove as much of the tale as I could remember including the license plate of the car and his route and direction. The officer took my information and was on the radio making calls.

I didn't sleep that night. I didn't get a call to testify to what I witnessed. I didn't see anything in the newspaper. It was a very long night, week, month with that on my conscience.





To this day, I don't know what the story was, whether I played a role with my action or inaction. This could have been a playful game between two consenting adults and I made it weird for them by being the creepy guy who followed them. It is possible that this was a runaway teen whose father caught up with her. I can't help but feel that it was far more sinister than that though.

I'm writing this because I try very hard to live my life with little regret. I know I will make bad choices and live with the consequences. It is my hope that in some way this story finds the girl who ran and finds her well. I don't need to be the hero, I just want to know that my cowardice and inaction didn't border on villainy.

Perhaps the universe is paying me for my lack of action by a lack knowledge as to the outcome. If this is my penance for cowardice, I will endure it.

Have you ever been involved with something that was so disconcerting and frightening that you were paralyzed?

read to be read at yeahwrite.me




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62 comments:

  1. Oh wow this blew me away. I felt the danger and creepiness. I kept hoping it was a fictional story. How sad. How terribly sad and scary.

    I'm sure I have my moments when I should have acted but that's not what comes to mind right now. For some reason the closeness to evil in your story reminds me of a time my friend and I were driving home from Chicago to Indiana. We stopped at a truck stop for gas. I went in and everyone in the store was standing still and acting very strangely. I was and still am convinced I walked into a robbery. I never checked later because I was young and didn't care. But another night, on that same highway, we stopped at a truck stop, and this truck stop was right near a porn store - in the middle of nowhere. A trucker saw me walking around, and as we pulled on the highway, he was following us. We were in a car and we couldn't shake him. I don't know how to explain it but it was very frightening and I just sensed that this guy wanted more than a look. It was the middle of nowhere, 3am, no humans for miles, and this trucker was chasing two young girls. I just felt in the pit of my gut: terror.

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  2. This was one of those true life stories that you have to unburden. Thanks for your comments.

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  3. Isn't it crazy that when presented with a scenario, especially on TV where someone really blows it, we all sit in judgement.  "What were they thinking! I wouldn't be so stupid!" But we forget that in the moment, something other than reason takes over, that fear can either be invigorating or immobilizing.   I feel like there have been several times in my life where God puts me in a situation and gives me the opportunity to do the right thing and I fail.  I'm getting better but my track record is still shamelessly bad.

    How amazing, by grace and only grace, she were to happen upon this blog and email you! *JAW DROPS*  Life changing, for sure!

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  4. That would truly be life changing.

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  5. Interesting story. That this occurred in 1988 it delights me that you followed up on what may have been a terrible event for that woman. I am a firm believer that we should speak up when we witness injustice, or worse. In 2012, though, I wonder if we have been so inundated by the fear mongers that everyone and everything has become sinister. Nevertheless, I would want someone caring about my wellbeing if someone saw me get out of a car and try to run away. So, kudos to you.

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  6. Wow. What a chillin tale. I really hope that woman wasn't hurt in anyway. But yes I have been frozen in indecision before. It's terrifying getting involved when you don't know all the circumstances. In your case you don't know if this was a true kidnapping. Or if the perpetrator had a gun. It was admiral that you followed in the first place. That was dangerous for sure. It was great that you told the police, all too often people won't go as far as they need to and you did.

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  7. Sometimes it is really hard to know when to step in and get involved and when to mind your own business. Especially nowadays. There have been a few instances where I didn't step in and I have regreted it later but I try to err on the side of caution. I'd rather be wrong and look stupid than not get help for someone who truly needed it.

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  8. justkeepinitrealfolksMay 22, 2012 at 11:51 AM

    WOW, that is an amazing story of courage. Good for you for following your gut instinct and doing what you thought was right. About the same time period, my husband witnessed a man beating the crap out of a woman on the side of a road in Baltimore. He stopped his car, got out and could have been shot. Same thing, no cell phones at that time. Just from him stopping and getting out of the car made the man stop beating the woman and the guy took off in his car.

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  9. Wow. I haven't been in a situation that scary. I can't even imagine it!

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  10. That is incredibly frightening, but you did the right thing. Calling the cops is always the right thing to do.

    I once witnessed a woman getting brutalized by a man in an alleyway on my way home from school. I think I was 13. I ran home and called 911, but didn't know the name of the alleyway where I saw it. I felt terrible about it.

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  11. When stuff like that happens the cops should always let you know that things turned out okay. It doesn't matter if your head tells you that most times things do, you will still always wonder when you pull that memory out.

    Oh and thank you so much for the Jason Statham eye candy!

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  12. Wow, what a story. I think it was incredibly brave of you to follow them! I'm completely useless in crisis and scary situations...it's like I freeze up and can't do anything. That frustrates me about myself. Even though you may feel like you didn't do anything, following them, finding the police....that was definitely something a lot of people wouldn't have done. 

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  13. Thanks Stephanie. This has weighed for a long time.

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  14. Thanks Carrie, it was very nerve racking.

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  15. If she contacts you, let us know. Personally, I think you did the right thing. Had you approached him, and he'd been truly dangerous, you could have gotten both of you killed. The fact that he took her to a public place sort of says that he didn't have the most horrible of intentions. Right?

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  16. What is it my dad used to say... something very similar to your sentiment. He'd rather look wrong doing or saying what was right than look right...maybe it was being right while seeming unpopular rather than being popular not doing right.

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  17. I wish I'd had the courage to push it just a little.

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  18. At 13, I'm not sure I would have been out of my own little world to notice. Good for you at such a young age.

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  19. You are welcome for the Jason Statham moment.

    I agree that the police should have followed up with me.

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  20. Thanks so much Katie, your words mean so much. I hadn't thought I had done enough, but you and others have made me see so far beyond those notions.

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  21. I'd love to agree with you on his intentions, but I'm naturally cynical. I'm sure my lack of desire for getting shot had significant effect on my decisions.

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  22. You did the right thing. The cops always tell you not to try and be a hero, because  then they're likely to have two victims to take care of instead of one. What would you have done if you'd confronted him?

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  23. Tara_pohlkottepressMay 22, 2012 at 11:29 PM

    given that you had no way like a cell phone to contact help, i think you handled it well! hopefully you were just that guy that rained on their parade...but something tells me, it wasn't that innocent.

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  24. It is really hard to know what to do/say and when. A while back I saw a man grab a woman and shake her. He screamed at her and she looked scared.

    I walked over and said something and she was the one to tell me to mind my own business. I don't know if it was a game they play or something more, but when she told me to buzz off it took some of the wind out of my sails.

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  25. Times before cell phones really were scary. I don't know how our parents let us out of the house. I think you did what you could do at the time.

    I can't help but ask, you called her your girlfriend, not your date, did you ever call or see her again? Did you ever go back to her house?
    And I know you must have tried to Google her, right?

    Sorry, this is just so tantalizing.
    Ellen

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  26. The worst thing is not knowing ... I think you just inspired me to write a blog about something that happened in my past where I wish I knew the outcome ... so glad we have cell phones now ... hopefully if anyone is ever in that kind of situation again they have service ... 

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  27. This was amazing. You should write a book about this...

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  28. TreadingWaterintheKiddiePoolMay 23, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    Wow. Thank god we all have cell phones now! You did a good thing.

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  29. I can see how I might have muddied the waters with pronouns. The She was not my girlfriend or date. I had already dropped my girlfriend off and was returning home when I saw the random girl run out in the road.

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  30. Wasn't I the Titanic Warning for you last week as well? :)

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  31. Your post was amazing this week as well. Who knew us snarky types could write about real stuff?

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  32. Wow - that's terrifying.  I've been in similar situations, though not as dramatic, a number of times.  It sure gets the adrenalin running. As a mandatory reporter, I have called more 911 dispatchers than I care to admit.  Great telling of a difficult night.

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  33. Thanks KD. Not sure what a mandatory reporter is hopefully you'll elaborate.

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  34. Yeah, I wish I'd paid $12 for a ticket and another $7 for popcorn if I could avoid having lived this.

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  35. I suppose it's easier to not say anything, you took the road less travelled.

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  36. I'm with you on that. I don't believe it was innocent.

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  37. Your Doctor's WifeMay 23, 2012 at 7:41 PM

    Scary! I have been known to dial 911 at the drop of a hat (or cigarette butt, truth be told). Thank goodness for cell phones!

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  38. If this was a movie, I would have easily disarmed him and turned him over to the police. In real life, I'm sure I would have been pummeled into a pulp.

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  39. It's crazy what you can become attached to.

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  40. Holy Crap you've lived with this all your life?  Man I wish you could find out what happened.  Terrific story.  Great writing!

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  41.  Okay, I guess you know, now this has taken on a whole new dimension for me. I was definitely being distracted while reading it. Sorry. You are a Good Samaritan. I hope this gives you some peace. Ellen

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  42. I am sure that if you followed up, they would have given you some information. I am also sure that, if the girl didn't turn up, the police would have contacted you. How do I know this? Because every time I see something strange, I call the police. They know me very well.

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  43. I think you made a wise decision and a very helpful one.  You surely couldn't have followed the car forever not knowing what was going on.  But on the other hand, you did everything you could to get help.

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  44. Bloody hell I have no idea what I would do if I was faced with something like that I reckon I would freeze but hope I would have the sense to ring 000, I could ring 911 but that would get me know where........since I am in Australia not America................lol

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  45. Sorry - as a teacher, I am required to report any situations of abuse or neglect.  And that includes people not directly associated with me.  I was lucky enough to live in an area that kept my phone busy.

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  46. Thanks Kim, yeah it was really vivid for the first couple of years and began fading. It came up in my memory recently and I'm not sure why.

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  47. That would have been seriously weird if my girlfriend had been the girl.
    I know some were initially thinking it was some WilyGuy clever metaphormism about an escaped chicken or family dog, but alas it is not.

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  48. I wonder if I could call now? You've given me inspiration and perhaps I will call and report back!

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  49. Thanks so much Mandy.

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  50. Crazy, three zeros huh? If I ever make it there, I will have to inadvertently call 911 and see what happens.

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  51. Ah, excellent. I'm not sure we define "lucky" the same way, lol.

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  52.  If it were a movie the police probably wouldn't be involved at all. It would probably culminate in you holding the crim over the edge of a cliff by his throat with waves crashing at the base and thunder in the sky. He'd plead for mercy and you'd pull him in and go "Too late pal." and then let go.

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  53. Ooh, do I get to say "what should be important to you is gravity...and this is my weak arm!" Do I?

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  54. Oh I wish there was a way for you to have some answers and get some closure on this memory. I was feeling very alone and scared for you. 

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  55. Oh my god, what a terrifying story. I don't know what else you could have done, tough. And honestly you probably did a hell of a lot more than most people would have! 

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  56. Musings of a Writer MomMay 24, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    How scary!  It's hard to know if you should have done more, but really, you did more than most people would have done, and I bet it was enough to have made a difference.

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  57. Wow - that would have been really scary. Sometimes it is hard to put ourselves back in the days before we had instant access to 911. If nothing else, maybe they were aware that someone was following them and perhaps the police did manage to check them out.

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  58. You are not a coward, you are brave for following them as far as you did. I'm sure if it were today and you had a cell phone, you would have called the police immediately, whereas, twenty years ago it wasn't so simple. Southern Maryland (Waldorf and Crofton) are my home town(s) too, it was neat following your story down 301 and really visualizing the locations :)

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  59.  Oh, alright.

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